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After failing to put together consecutive wins over its first three conference games, Duke has started to gel as the ACC schedule has trudged on, building on its dominating win over Pittsburgh by blowing out Wake Forest at home last Saturday and taking down No. 25 Miami on the road in an epic comeback win. Despite poor shooting from senior captain Grayson Allen, Duke has found key contributions from its other four starters (freshmen Marvin Bagley and Wendell Carter both logged double-doubles in the two wins this week and Gary Trent, Jr set a career high with 30 points against Miami) and have dipped into their bench for timely play by reserves.
The expanded bench has come without the top two non-starters in the rotation as Marques Bolden and Javin DeLaurier have missed each of the last three games (Bolden also was out for the N.C. State game).
Point guard Trevon Duval seems to have found his perimeter shot, making six of his last eight attempts after connecting on just seven of his first 42.
comeback ability DISPLAYED
During the PK80 Invitational earlier in the year, Duke faced second-half deficits against Portland State, Texas and Florida before coming back to get wins in all three games. Against Miami on Monday, the Blue Devils found themselves in a similar situation after an 16-0 run from the Hurricanes put Duke down by 13 points with just under eight minutes to play. Duke answered with an 18-0 run that gave it the lead back for good and stunned a sold out Miami crowd, including Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez. Young teams are not typically known for clutch play, but Duke has shown multiple times this year the ability to close out games and turn things around defensively. That’s a good sign for a young team that will need to grow up quickly to have any chance at success in the postseason.
FOUR GAMES IN NINE DAYS
Starting with Saturday’s afternoon game against Pittsburgh, Duke will play four games in the following nine days including against No. 2 Virginia on Jan. 27. Fortunately for the banged up Blue Devils, they’ll only have to hit the road one time, a short trip over to Wake Forest on Tuesday night.
Gary Trent Jr. coming on strong
With Grayson Allen struggling from the field, connecting on just 2 of 14 shots for seven points combined over the last two games, Duke has needed another guy to step up from the perimeter. Freshman Gary Trent Jr. has delivered, and then some. His career-high 30 point outing against Miami on Monday night came on the heels of a 19-point showing against Wake Forest. He tied the program record for most made 3-pointers in a game by a freshman in both games, going 6 for 7 against Wake Forest and 6 for 9 against Miami. He’s now the third-leading scorer on the team and has surpassed Allen for most made 3s on the season (46 to 45) for the first time.
Zion Williamson set to announce his decision
The No. 3-ranked recruit in the 2018 recruiting class will announce his decision on Saturday, and Williamson has included Duke in the final six schools still vying for his commitment. Mike Krzyzewski and Jeff Capel visited the YouTube sensation earlier this week, making one final pitch to add Williamson to a collection of top-10 players (No. 1 R.J. Barrett, No. 2 Cameron Reddish and No. 8 Tre Jones are already signed) that would give Duke the top three ranked players in a class for the first time ever.
2018 Football Schedule Announced
Duke announced its 2018 football schedule, and the month of November will be a daunting challenge. David Cutcliffe’s group will head on the road to take on both of the ACC Championship teams (Miami on Nov. 3rd and Clemson on the 17th) while they host in-state rivals North Carolina (Nov. 10) and Wake Forest (Nov. 24) to round out the final month of the regular season.
They’ll finalize the non-conference portion of the schedule in the first four games of the year, with home games against Army (Sept. 1) and NCCU (Sept. 22) sandwiched around road trips to Baylor (Sept. 8) and Northwestern (Sept. 15). Duke also hosts Virginia Tech in September (Sept. 29).
October sees Duke with a bye week on the 6th before heading down to Atlanta for a road contest at Georgia Tech on the 13th. They return home to take on Virginia on the 20th and then head out to Pittsburgh on Oct. 27.
Duke is looking to return to a bowl game for the sixth time in the last seven years with their most experienced starter ever at quarterback under David Cutcliffe in Daniel Jones looking to build on an up-and-down redshirt sophomore year.
Adam Rowe covers Duke basketball, football and recruiting for 247Sports.com. Check out more of his work at duke.247sports.com.